$15 billion of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be available in just two days, the President announced this morning, just a week after the act was signed into law.
"By the time most of you get home; money will be waiting to help 20 million vulnerable Americans in your states keep their health care coverage," he told a gathering of the nation's governors in the State Dining Room of the White House. "Children with asthma will be able to breathe easier, seniors won't need to fear losing their doctors, and pregnant women with limited means won't have to worry about the health of their babies."
But as with all the money in the ARRA, it's "not a blank check," the President said. (Learn more about the grant-making process.) He hammered it home by announcing that he's tasked Vice President Biden to oversee the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and that he's named Earl Devaney to keep an eye on every dollar as head of the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board.
A former Secret Service agent, Devaney has worked since 1999 as the Inspector General of the Interior Department, where he exposed the Abramoff scandals and a deep culture of corruption among Bush officials and appointees.
"For nearly a decade as Inspector General at the Interior Department, Earl has doggedly pursued waste, fraud and mismanagement," the President said, "and Joe and I can't think of a more tenacious and efficient guardian of the hard-earned tax dollars the American people have entrusted us to wisely invest.
"He looks like an inspector," he added. "He's tough."
The appointment of Devaney follows on a tough memo from OMB director Peter Orszag to the heads of federal departments and agencies, explaining the high standards that are expected of them in reporting use of ARRA funds.